The Problem with Mental Health Awareness Day

I’m a day late, sorry. I’ve been going through the hashtag on Twitter and it’s become apparent that people (including myself) have an issue with mental health awareness day.

The media and celebrities have been doing a lot recently to get people talking about mental health, which is great. The problem is that services are under funded and the NHS is falling apart under our very noses. There’s also a lot of fake people out there who pretend to care for the day, saying ‘you can always talk to me’ but that only lasts for a day to make them look good.

Waiting lists are a problem. You go to your GP for a 10 minute appointment which you probably had to wait at least a week to get. They’ll tell you to refer yourself for counselling or they’ll put you on antidepressants and tell you to come back in 2 weeks. If you’re lucky, you’ll get referred to the mental health team and that’s when it starts. The waiting. The only support you have in the mean time is your GP for 10 minute appointments. It could take months, even a year to get seen.

Finally you’ll have an assessment to see if that level of care is suitable and if it is, you’ll probably only see a psychiatrist every 3 to 6 months. You might have a CPN or support worker and if you need to see a psychologist, that’s another waiting list that can take months. When I was under Early Intetvention, it took me a year to see a psychologist and we didn’t get on. I’m now under the Complex Recovery Team and on another waiting list.

There’s hotlines you can call, such as Samaritans but they are only there to listen. They can’t give advice or any actual care. Hopeline UK can go through safety plans with you if you’re feeling suicidal but they only deal with people up to 35 and what if you’re not suicidal? What if you’re manic or psychotic or keep getting flashbacks and nightmares? Who are you meant to talk to? Friends and family can only help so much.

As for the fake people, it’s hard to know who to trust. Everyone claims that you can talk to them no matter what but do they reach out to you? Probably not. Are they there for you when it’s not just anxiety and depression? There’s a lot more complex illnesses that need to be recognised. Now I’m not saying that depression and anxiety aren’t important and not as severe as other ilnesses but there’s so much stigma around schizophrenia, personality disorders, DID, bipolar, schizoaffecitve disorder, PTSD. The list goes on. It’s hard to find people who will stick around when shit hits the fan. People will say ‘I’m there for you’ but saying it isn’t enough. Would you spend all night in A&E with someone who’s in a crisis? Would you visit them in a psychiatric hospital when they have no visitors? My parents are the only people who have done this for me no matter how many people have told me I can rely on them. Mental illness doesn’t go away after the one day a year everyone talks about it.

We need to do more than just talk about mental health. We need to do more than put a donation page on Facebook when it’s your birthday. We need change.

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